Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

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Bermond Scoggins – Towards the Examined Life | Week 2

Bermond Scoggins

23 January 2017

By now I have acclimated to Vienna, to her narrow streets and, most importantly, to her winter weather. I think it has been made easier by my being constantly stimulated at the AEC. Research tasks, ranging from the meaning of ‘Brexit’ to the economic and political consequences arising from Brussels’ regulatory leviathan, are more than enough to distract one from the cold – even for a Perthite (and no, not the type of mineral).

In addition to research, much of my time at the office has been spent assisting in the preparations for this year’s annual European Resource Bank Meeting (ERB) – the largest annual congress of free market think tanks in Europe. Sitting in on a conference call, taking the minutes, and writing memos with suggestions, is par the course.

Last weekend was spent working towards the insurmountable task of viewing the entirety of Vienna’s art collection. Of course, it is the journey, and not the destination that matters – according to T. S. Elliot. Seeing other visitors just glance at a piece of artwork and move on reminds one of that important fact.

I visited two important museums. The first, the Albertina, houses an impressive collection of Impressionist paintings, with Kokoschkas and Picassos among the highlights. Kokoschka’s In the Garden was particularly enjoyable. Being a former palace, the Albertina also featured elegant staterooms from the Hapsburg era that made for a delightful stroll through history.

After a brief stop for a Viennese pretzel, I walked over towards the Museum District to see the Leopold Museum’s extensive collection of works from the Vienna Secession. Gustav Klimt’s Life and Death is particularly noteworthy for its allegory that fear should not be woven into life. The meaning may serve as a gentle reminder to various political commentators and groups that fear mongering is not any sort of answer to the uncertainties of the world and that we should, to quote the poet Richard Wilbur, “Go talk with those who are rumoured to be unlike you”.

Kokoschka's "In the Garden"

Hapsburg Rooms at the Albertina

Klimt's "Life and Death"

To conclude, working at the AEC and thereby living a life of ideas has afforded me the luxury of reading extensively. Be it current social developments in the latest publications or detailed arguments in the tomes of past thinkers, the complexities of the world become slightly simpler, life less daunting, and its passage less fearful. Much like In the Garden’s seated girl, whose companions’ whispers represent the awakening of adolescence and the truths of adulthood, each article and chapter read can reveal to its reader new vistas of understanding.

Trying to follow my own advice

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